Links for 2-1-2018

  • Andrew McCarthy writes on the FBI’s objections to the release of Devin Nunes’ memo:

    Since before the Republican-led committee voted (along partisan lines) to seek the memo’s declassification and publication, the FBI has been complaining that it was not permitted to review the memo. As I explained last week, this was a very unpersuasive complaint. Having stonewalled the committee’s information requests for several months, the Bureau and Justice Department are hardly well positioned to complain about being denied access; the committee, by contrast, has every reason to believe they would have slow-walked any review in order to delay matters further.

    All that aside, the FBI was guaranteed access to the memo before its publication because of the rules of the process. Once the committee voted to disclose, that gave the president five days to object. During that five days, Trump’s own appointees at the FBI and DOJ would have the chance to pore over the memo and make their objections and policy arguments to their principal, the president, and to the rest of the Trump national-security team. This tells us the real objection was not that they were barred from reviewing the memo; it is that they were barred from reviewing it on a schedule that would make it more difficult to derail publication.

    Angelo Codevilla offers a more partisan take:

    The FBI’s top leadership — whose careers, business dealings, politics, marriages and extramarital affairs intertwine — invested itself incompetently and illegally into the 2016 election campaign against Donald Trump. In part to cover itself, it launched the so-called “Russia probe.” Its members are personally, deeply interested in keeping the public from seeing the documents concerning these activities. They raised the familiar shield: release would compromise the sources and methods of national security.

    The House of Representatives’ Republican majority wanted the documents made public, issued a subpoena for them, and was prepared to jail senior FBI for contempt had they not complied with it. The House compromised, being satisfied by viewing them and making a summary, which it has voted to make public. The FBI and the Justice Department’s bureaucracy, being out of options for saving their reputations, their pensions, and perhaps for keeping themselves out of jail, urge President Trump to advise the House to guard the secrecy of the summary, of the activities that it describes, and hence to save their bacon.

  • The U.S. Marine Corps relieved the commander of one of Okinawa’s two MF–22 Osprey squadrons of duty. Lt. Col. Bryan Swenson lost his job due to a “loss of trust and confidence in his ability to lead his command.” Six months ago an Osprey crashed off Okinawa’s coast.

  • Fourteen Catholic senators voted against cloture for the “Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” a.k.a. the 20 week abortion ban. Father Dwight Longenecker provides the name of each senator’s bishop so you know who to complain to.

  • The Trump administration designated Harakat as-Sabirin Li-Nasran Filastin as a terrorist group. As-Sabirin is a Shiite group that operates in Gaza and is funded by Iran. The Trump administration also designated two Muslim Brotherhood offshoots in Egypt as terrorist groups — Harakat Sawa’id Misr and Liwa al-Thawra.

  • The Syrian government reportedly used chlorine rockets again in Douma.

  • Reuters provided some backstory for Ji Seong-ho, the North Korean defector who appeared at Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech this week.

  • A cybersecurity company based in the United Arab Emirates, DarkMatter, started revealing some information about its operations and customers. DarkMatter is tight with the UAE’s government, and hires a lot of ex-CIA and ex-NSA people.

Links for 9-13-2017

Links for 7-24-2017

Links for 12-21-2016

  • American intelligence agencies are using technological progress as an excuse to erode Fourth Amendment rights. As far as the general counsel of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence is concerned, the fact that Yahoo scans emails for viruses means it’s OK for intelligence agencies to run software on Yahoo’s servers that scans for “selectors” that they find interesting.

  • Angelo Codevilla writes that the CIA has long been a tool of the American political left:

    In short, the CIA has always been part of the left wing of America’s ruling class. The “Russian hacking affair” is another instance of the perennial effort by which this class defends its claim to be the arbiter of truth and authority. Since the CIA has always possessed far fewer facts with far greater incertitude than the body politic imagines, it confuses its officials’ socio-political predilections with facts. Over more than a half-century, the CIA has purveyed them as facts because very few outsiders ever get behind its layered curtains of secrecy — which it flashes open for favorite journalists. Secrecy, which is essential to intelligence, presents a well-nigh irresistible temptation to cover insufficiency and self indulgence with the standard objection: “Our conclusions are based on facts of which you are not aware and that we cannot share with you.”

    Codevilla worked on the staff of the Senate Intelligence Committee, so he knows something about this.

  • The current suspect in the Berlin truck bombing is a Tunisian named Anis Amri. Earlier this year he was under surveillance because a tip suggested he was planning a terrorist attack. He was supposed to be deported but the fact that he had several false identification documents delayed the process. Before he arrived in Germany, Amri spent four years in an Italian prison for starting a fire at a school.

  • The recent problem with the U.S. Navy’s F/A–18 Super Hornets and EA–18G Growlers that resulted in a temporary grounding of the planes is related to over-pressurization of the cockpit, which resulted in a canopy failure that injured the crew.

  • Nolan Peterson visited Ukrainian soldiers on the front line. The ceasefire with separatists and Russian troops is in even worse shape than usual, with several Ukrainian soldiers killed and dozens injured the past few days. The U.S. supplied small drones to Ukrainian forces, but they’re easily jammed and hacked, making them useless.

  • Russia successfully flight tested a new anti-satellite missile, the PL–19 Nudol. This was the third successful test of the missile.

  • Israel informed the U.S. that Hezbollah is using American armored personnel carriers in Syria. Apparently they were originally provided to the Lebanese government.

Links for 9-28-2016

Links for 9-6-2016

Links for 3-25-2016

  • The U.S. killed Abd al-Rahman Mustafa al-Qaduli, the second-in-command of ISIS, in Syria. The Department of Defense isn’t providing any details of how this went down.

  • RedState: “Donald Trump is a Garbage Human Being Who is Leading a Movement of Other Garbage Human Beings”

  • Allahpundit’s reaction to the National Enquirer story about rumors of private investigators looking into allegations that Ted Cruz had affairs:

    My impression of Cruz, take it or leave it, is that he’s been running for president since he was six years old. Even to a supporter like me, he often comes off like a man who hasn’t had a thought in 20 years that wasn’t somehow devoted to advancing his career. His message discipline is so strict that he can seem, even in personal conversation, as someone not quite fully human. If you’ve never read it before, go read Andrew Ferguson’s story about trying to have a low-key chat with Cruz during a car ride after a long day of covering him, only to have Cruz mechanically lurch into one of his stump speeches — leading Ferguson to want to open the car door and throw himself into oncoming traffic. To his political rivals he’s famously calculating, and his campaign is acclaimed as the most well organized and disciplined in the field. He can seem at times less like a person than a highly advanced conservative robot that hasn’t quite made it all the way through the uncanny valley. As I say, better men than Cruz have been ruined by a weakness for skirt-chasing, but he strikes me as a guy who has, and has had, his eyes on the prize and only on the prize for a very long time. If this is anything more than a smear aimed at driving a wedge between a candidate and his evangelical fans, I’ll be surprised to put it mildly. But form your own judgment. I’ll never talk someone out of believing something they really want to believe

    Whatever else happens, though, I think we can now safely write off the chances of a Trump/Cruz unity ticket at the convention. If Cruz wasn’t #NeverTrump before, he will be soon: “I will say this, I do not make a habit out of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my family.”

  • Angelo Codevilla argues that President Obama effectively endorses the Cuban government’s use of hunger to control the island’s population:

    When Barack Obama dined at Castro’s in Havana, it may not have occurred to him that the vast majority of Cuba’s people are undernourished, and that keeping Cubans scrambling for their next meal is an essential part of the Castro regime’s hold on power.

    Later:

    Obama’s socio-political tribe has admired the Castro regime from its inception, envying its power to reshape society along common Progressive lines. The degree to which modern progressives yearn to do to America what Castro has done to Cuba may be seen in their lack of objection to, indeed support of, the Castro regime’s power to choose who will eat well and who will live on the edge.

    Later:

    Fishing is strictly limited. Slaughtering an animal is punishable by eight years’ imprisonment, and buying a piece of illegally slaughtered meat gets you three. Of course, millions of people in the countryside do such things, while city dwellers try to build connections with country folk who can deliver contraband. Minor officials collaborate by taking bribes. But this endemic corruption is as dangerous as it is essential to life.

  • Based on his reaction to the Brussels bombings while in Cuba and Argentina, Matthew Continetti writes that President Obama is “Our Secretary-General In Chief”:

    Rarely has Obama’s attitude toward terrorism been brought into such stark relief. Why does he respond so perfunctorily, so coolly, so stoically to the mayhem? Not because he lacks sympathy. Because he believes his job is to restrain America from overreaction, from hubris, from our worst instincts of imperialism and oppression.

    Yes, the thinking goes, ISIS and al Qaeda are threats to be fought, contained, defeated. But the greater threat, in Obama’s view, is that Americans may become scared, afraid, disrupted, divided. We might invade Iraq again, or cut off immigration and trade, or discriminate against the Muslim minority. That is the real danger against which this president stands. Terrorism will burn itself out. The problem of American maximalism remains.

    This is not the sort of thing you expect to hear from an American president. It’s what you expect from a secretary general of the United Nations, from the president of the European Commission, from the foreign ministry of France circa 2002. It’s the worldview of the international NGO, of the multilateral bureaucrat: Terrorism? We can manage. But the U.S. hyper-power? We’ve got to put a lid on this problem, stat.

  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection intercepted a semi-submersible vessel containing $200 million worth of cocaine.

  • Some American intelligence analysts believe North Korea has developed a miniaturized nuclear warhead. Combined with North Korea’s recent claim to have successfully tested a solid-fuel rocket engine, they’re on course to build nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles.

  • Iran is deploying special forces soldiers from its regular army to Syria and Iraq. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has been fighting in Syria for some time, but deploying Iranian Army troops to Syria is new.

  • Egypt’s army claims it killed 60 Islamic militants in the northern Sinai Peninsula.

  • Russia plans to deploy missile defense systems and drones on the Kurile Islands, the ownership of which is disputed between Russia and Japan.

  • A Turkish court closed the espionage trial of two journalists to the public. Many people doubted the journalists would receive a fair trial, and this move reinforced the doubts.